We all know the benefits of buying local (strengthening the economy and mitigating the climate-damaging impact from shipping packages all over the country, among others). Shopping at the Santa Fe Farmers Market for the holidays carries extra benefits such as supporting community agriculture. The market features more than 150 local farmers, and everything they sell—whether it's fresh produce or crafts—is generated locally. As the bustle of the market indicates, you'll have plenty of choices this season, but here are some ideas to get you started.
Comestible and Delectable
Squash Blossom (squashblossomlocalfood.com), the City of Santa Fe's 2018 small business of the year, provides farm-fresh ingredients to restaurants and individuals every week via its subscription service. For the holidays, the business makes it extra-easy to gift your loved ones delicious local products. Squash Blossom's Holiday Gift Bag ($50) is festively wrapped and ready to go. It contains goodies from farmers throughout northern New Mexico, including Heart of the Desert's red chile pistachios; drinking chocolate from Kakawa; garlic oil and raspberry jam from Heidi's Raspberry Farm; green chile mustard from Pecos Foods; and handmade lip balm from Nina Botanica, another local company owned by Squash Blossom founder Nina Yozell-Epstein. And if you'd like to make your gift giving extra-fresh, the company also offers gift subscriptions for its regular weekly produce deliveries.
Form and Function
At first glance, Mesa Ruiz' pots look too beautiful to use for cooking. But make no mistake, these micaceous clay vessels ($50-$500) have both art appeal and utilitarian value. And in keeping with the farmers market requirement that all products be made from 70 percent local materials, Ruiz makes these pots from the dirt he digs himself and then fires in an outdoor horno. Ruiz runs La Mesa Organic Farms in Dixon, where he grows primarily blue corn and apples (and cooks up blue corn pupusas at the same stand where you'll find his pottery. Have a bite while you shop).
Wreath What You Sow
Jose Gonzalez quickly admits that the intricate, beautiful wreaths—dozens festooned with pine cones, straw flowers, corn, sticks and, of course, chiles—are his wife Maria's doing ($25-$100). She's fast, he says, whereas his handiwork usually takes two to three times as long. Whomever is responsible, the end result is irrefutable: Gonzalez Farm, located in Alcalde (and a 2015 Santa Fe Farmers Market Farmer All Star award winner), is responsible for some of the most beautiful wreaths around. We dare you to buy for others and not take home a few for yourself. Some of the couple's creations seem purely holiday-driven (reindeer figurines, for example), but plenty of the colorful creations will brighten up the house year-round. And, as Gonzalez says, red chiles are good luck, which is the best gift of all.
Scents and Sensibility
If New Mexico had an official state smell (now there's an idea whose time has come), chances are piñon smoke and roasted green chile would have to go head to head. But don't rule out lavender, Northern New Mexico's favorite herb. For the lavender lover in your life, Artemisia Herbs' DIY lavender piñon honey mustard vinaigrette kit ($40) includes lavender honey and piñon vinegar along with a recipe card, plus the company's desert oil blend. Of course, there are many more tinctures and products from which to choose—be sure to check out the osha honey or the candied osha (each $15), the most delicious medicinal treat we've had in a while. And if you'd like to give the gift of healing, Artemisia also runs a community supported apothecary called the Osha Project, "from farm to tincture," in which you can buy shares for quarterly herbs and other treatments. See more at artemisiaherbsnm.com.
If the thought of combining the stress of holiday shopping with the boisterous crowds of the market has you pondering throwing in the towel for some good old planet-destroying online shopping, think again. But we can keep things easy. Buy everyone on your list a Santa Fe Farmers Market gift certificate, which can be redeemed for tokens good at the market (and the café and shop). Pair that with Farm Fresh Journey, the Santa Fe Farmers Market cookbook ($45) by photographer Douglas Merriam and with narratives by Lesley King. This stunningly photographed book will help you make delicious seasonal use of your produce, while also telling the story of the farmers and the crops they grow. Plus, a portion of each book sold goes straight back to the market. Gift certificates are available online at farmersmarketinstitute.org.
Santa Fe Farmer's Market
8 am-1 pm Saturdays, 1607 Paseo de Peralta
Railyard Artisan Market
10 am-4 pm Sundays, 1607 Paseo de Peralta